University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff
Founder and Director, Hood Conservatives
As the founder of Hood Conservatives, Cecilia Johnson has always been one to step ahead of the crowd. In 2008, she read an article titled “Why I’m a Black Republican” in a national Black magazine and it led her to become heavily involved in her local political scene. She founded Hood Conservatives in 2012 as a joke, but soon realized that there was a need for a different perspective on minority outreach by conservatives. Aside from Hood Conservatives, she is a community activist, natural hair guru and stylist, and entrepreneur.
Why is it important that at this particular point in time, right-of-center youth become involved publicly, whether in politics, media, their communities, or another capacity?
I believe this nation is at a point where it is beginning to stop and question a lot of things about itself. It is imperative that those with right-of-center beliefs get involved because we can positively impact the path our country takes. Our more traditional values, support of the U.S. Constitution, and belief in liberty is exactly what the leaders and activists of tomorrow should posses, and by becoming involved at a young age, we can ensure that we are in the position to serve as the leaders America needs.
What must elected officials and others in positions of leadership do to make a right-of-center message resonate with the Millennial generation?
Right-of-center elected officials and other leaders must become better at marketing our message to the youth if we want them to listen to our side. The key to this is by reaching out to and listening to the many eager young people who are either already active or who are looking for ways to become active. If our goal is the reach out to Millennials, then the logical thing to do is to utilize those Millennials that are already on our side.
Where would you like to see the conservative movement in 10 years — and how can it get there?
Ten years from now I would like to see the conservative movement as the “Big Tent” party that Reagan spoke of. While I do think that we have made steps in the right direction, I still believe there’s a lot of work to be done, particularly in minority communities. To get there, we need to become better at not only articulating our message to those who might otherwise never hear our position, but also at identifying cultural areas where they are in agreement. We also need to be more active in communities on a local level — whether it’s attending local activist meetings, helping out with community events, or becoming active in local politics. We need to get serious about outreach and not just try something for the sake of being able to say we tried.